Here at The NEWS, we publish a lot of stories about energy efficiency. We write about product efficiency trends in almost every issue of the magazine, we track and cover regulatory actions, and we even have an energy management page on our website. We do this because the HVAC industry has made energy efficiency a top priority, and for good reason: Energy costs money, and most of it comes from nonrenewable resources.
Yet our elected officials haven’t been able to pass energy legislation in more than seven years, but not because they don’t agree it’s a good thing. They can’t seem to compromise and let the other side have something it wants, even if it means they get something they want, too. It’s baffling, and I, like most Americans, am utterly fed up with this partisan bickering.
I was especially exasperated after learning the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill had once again stalled in the Senate. Charlie McCrudden, senior vice president for government relations at ACCA, said in an ACCA update that negotiations over amendments to the bill “broke down” on Wednesday. “[Senate] Majority Leader [Harry] Reid filed a procedural motion that shuts out any opportunity to offer amendments on Keystone or the proposed EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] Rules,” he wrote. “Limiting the amendments dooms the bill’s chances to get to the floor before the November elections.”
So, just like that, it looks like Shaheen-Portman is dead in the water. Again. And for no good reason.
While the bill may be so watered down now (it’s in its fourth iteration since 2011) that it lacks the teeth most environmentalists would prefer, it’s still the first good shot at passing energy legislation in many years. Democrats support the bill itself, as do Republicans. Manufacturers and environmentalists love it. The HVACR industry supports it. How often do you get this much backing for anything? But people on both sides of the aisle ultimately bow to their special interests, and it appears the bill has again fallen victim to them. It’s unfortunate, and it’s frustrating.
Perhaps things will be different after elections this fall. I hope they are. I hope Congress will learn to play nice and get things done, and I hope the Shaheen-Portman bill will make it to the Senate floor and actually pass. I also hope that each and every one of you reading this will consider exercising your ability to vote later this year.
While there isn’t much we can do right now to force Congress’s cooperation, we can all make sure our voices are heard at the ballot boxes on Nov. 4.